Around the Institute

Takeaways from the 2012 AEA Conference

November 9, 2012

APEP at the AEA Conference

We braved long security lines (and in-flight coffee of “questionable” quality) to make our way to Minneapolis for the AEA’s annual conference. Yes, it rained…and snowed. But inside the convention center, we stayed warm and engaged with some pretty amazing presentations on social networks, developmental evaluation, storytelling methodologies, and more. And for those who didn’t sneak out to see the city, you missed out big time. There was a giant spoon with a cherry just around the corner.

Capturing the Intended and Unintended Effects of a Program

At the conference, Scott Chazon presented on the Ripple Effect Mapping method, a promising follow-up participatory group process designed to document the results of program efforts within complex, real-life settings. The result is a visual map that looks into the connections and linkages between and among changes and effects by a complex intervention. To facilitate this process, one needs to balance the art (and science) of managing group dynamics and lots and lots of paper.

Mobilizing Citizens for Change

Advocates talk about engaging constituents. And about civic engagement, what we might call the willingness of citizens to join with others in pursuing change. It’s easy to talk about, but evaluators wonder how to define or measure it. Another AEA highlight: learning about the Civic Engagement Measurement System developed for the Alliance for Families and Children. They also published a report titled “Potential Best Practices for Enhancing Civic Engagement Outcomes.” Happy reading!